01/14/14 Odds & Ends: Giving the Fool a second chance

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A relatively huge slate of shows for today’s post. Too bad none of them seem to be any good. I sometimes wonder why I watch these shows if I’m never going to like them anyway. But then I remind myself that no one actually reads these posts, so it doesn’t actually matter what I say in them.

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D-Frag! Ep. 2

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Episode summary: Now that Kenji’s joined the club, it won’t get shut down, but this draws the attention of the “Real” Game Creation Club. Its leader tries to harass Kenji into quitting, but this tactic fails to work. So she challenges Roka to a contest: whoever creates the better game for the Cultural Festival gets to absorb the rival’s club. There’s some meaningless back story tossed in there for good measure.

Thoughts: I think I smiled once. I took a screenshot of this moment for posterity.

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Nobunagun Ep. 2

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Episode summary: We begin with Sio saving the day, but this accomplishment doesn’t come easy. She might have the spirit of Nobunaga within her, but she can’t quite handle her giant-ass rifle with grace just yet. But thanks to two additional allies, Newton and Gandhi, all’s well for now. We then learn that the Invasion Objects are from outer space, and so is that cosmic bunny-slash-ram hybrid that you can see in the screenshot above. Apparently, cosmic bunnyram’s home planet suffered at the hands (claws?) of these Invasion Objects, so she (it has a female voice but I don’t really know if it can be said to have a gender of any sort) came to Earth and, uh, extracted DNA from famous people throughout history. She now wants Sio to join Dogoo, the secret organization that has been preparing all this time to combat the Invasion Objects. Sio, however, suffers from a crisis of confidence. Thankfully, a heart-to-heart with Asao manages to fix that problem in a jiffy! Yay for instant character development.

Thoughts: I can understand recruiting people like Nobunaga and Newton, but Jack the Ripper? Really? Why don’t we also recruit Hitler or Stalin while we’re at it. In any case, this anime is so ugly. I don’t actually have a problem with the color scheme, which I think sort of fits the action. Rather, the characters are just really, really poorly designed. Newton, in particular, looks like a giant mess, but Gandhi isn’t far behind either. Everything’s just looks incredibly garish, and to compound matters, the low animation frames renders the action kind of janky. But I think perhaps the biggest visual flaw is how nothing has much of an impact. Nobunagun’s weapon merely causes giant holes to literally appear in the enemy. There’s a drastic lack of weight in any of the scenes, because nothing about the action is remotely visceral. I’m not asking for like… Attack on Titan, which has a tone that requires actual brutality. No, that’s not Nobunagun, which is infinitely less serious, but that doesn’t mean the aliens should just literally disappear when they get shot at. There’s a middle ground somewhere, and this anime falls way short of it.

Plus, the plot’s not much better. Practically every superhero story has that moment where the main character doubts his or her purpose and resolve. As such, Sio’s hesitancy to join Dogoo is really just par for the course. The issue, however, lies in the execution. Honestly, it’s not what story you end up telling, it’s how you tell it. Y’see, even though Sio pretty much saved the day — even though Asao would have assuredly died had Sio not shown up out of nowhere and started taking names — our heroine thinks she was useless. Why? Because while she managed to single-handedly exterminate most of the Invasion Objects, one managed to slip by and almost kill everyone until Gandhi shielded them all from the explosion. Because of this alone, Sio’s like, “Uguu, I’m so useless and scared.” I dunno about that. To me, that feels a little hamfisted. I definitely think they could have done a better job here, i.e. at least find a better example for Sio’s lack of confidence. It’s so painfully obvious that she bore the brunt of the work, so I don’t really buy the example we’ve been given. But whatever, I guess I can’t really expect top-notch character development from a show like Nobunagun.

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Nobunaga the Fool Ep. 2

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Episode summary: Nobunaga uses Da Vinci’s fancy mecha to win a fight, and it most pleases him. On the way home, he learns that Jeanne has come to the Star of the East because her own Star is in danger, but as usual, she has no clue what that danger is. She thinks Nobunaga might be the fated Savior-King, but — you guessed it! — she’s not sure again. Anyway, Da Vinci pledges his loyalty to our brash hero, asking for only THE TRUTH OF THE UNIVERSE in return. Yeah, it’s that kind of anime. Moving on, Nobunaga returns home to warn his father about the military aggression he had just seen and been through, and then we meet his sister, a scene which is heavy with incestuous overtones (hey, it’s anime). Meanwhile, the Round Table of Camelot (I’m not even joking) sends Julius Caesar (I’m really not joking) to go after Da Vinci. Lord help me.

Thoughts: I don’t think there’s anything meaningful I can say about the story just yet… or ever, really. But on the bright side, at least this episode was watchable. Usually, I’m not a fan of the characters just milling about, vomiting exposition through their dialogue, but Nobunaga the Fool actually needs this sort of thing. It needs to take a breather and just let the plot develop organically. On another note, I have to wonder what the loose historical references honestly add to the anime. I mean, does it really need to be Caesar and Brutus? Does it have to be Nobunaga and Jeanne d’Arc? Would anything about the story honestly change if they had random made-up names instead? I just think you set yourself up for disappointment by sticking to these historical names. After all, I expect a Jeanne d’Arc to be something more than a passive bystander with a giant rack. But honestly, the only Jeanne-ish thing she’s done so far is disguise herself as a man, and even then, it currently merely amounts to covering herself in a brown cloth. Ho hum.

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Hamatora Ep. 2

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Episode summary: One-off story about an oft-bullied kid soliciting Hamatora’s help in locating his missing teacher. It turns out, however, that the teacher was a Minimum Holder who had been taking advantage of the kid’s bullying for his own benefit. In any case, he falls victim to the serial killer who has been targeting Minimum Holders throughout the city. Although Nice and Murasaki manages to resolve the bullied kid’s problems, the serial killer’s whereabouts continue to loom large. Our villain has apparently been stealing the victims’ brains in order to artificially implant Minimums into people who wouldn’t otherwise have any powers.

Thoughts: It’s one of those series where there are two narratives unfolding side-by-side: the boring stuff that gets introduced and solved weekly, and the infinitely more interesting story arc that will only get the slightest bit (you could even call it Minimum!) of development per episode. The serial killer going around stealing brains is sort of interesting. Everything else? I could do without. Anyway, my opinion of the show hasn’t changed. It’s harmless, but nobody would care if Hamatora honestly never existed in the first place. It’s like a poor man’s Durarara or something.

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Witch Craft Works Ep. 2

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Episode summary: Our babied hero learns that certain witches are after him for his body. More specifically, they’re after that white stuff, but it’s totally not semen, you sickos. You’re saying that this answer doesn’t explain anything? Too bad, ’cause we’re moving on. Takamiya’s important because if he falls into the wrong hands, the world will end. None of this still makes any sense? Suck it up, champ. Takamiya then wants to become Kagari’s apprentice and learn magic, because he’s tired of being a burden. As a result, he ends up meeting Kagari’s mother. Oh yeah, more random witches appear and attack Takamiya only to fail. Kagari’s not even breaking a sweat.

Thoughts: What a serious waste of money. Honestly, a lot of deserving adaptations could definitely use just a fraction of what J.C. Staff is devoting to Witch Craft Works. Not gonna lie; the anime looks nice. It just isn’t interesting, it isn’t funny, and it isn’t even very moe. I’m not an expert here, but I would imagine Kagari’s a little too tall and well-endowed to win any of those silly moe contests.

In any case, I’m faintly reminded of a show — can’t quite recall its name anymore — from quite a few years ago where a bunch of girls pretty much revolved around a guy’s dick. Well, when I put it like that, it just sounds like every harem in existence, but bear with me. Like Takamiya, the main character had no clue why he was so special, but we later learned that he’s really a super mega powerful Demon King… or maybe just a warlock or something, I can’t really remember. Anywho, each time he recovers his memories or some shit, the world is in grave danger and the girls basically have to reset the timeline, i.e. harem ad infinitum. Why am I bringing this up? ‘Cause I’m hard-pressed to find anything meaningful to say about Witch Craft Works. I’m only watching it for the sake of completion, which isn’t even really true. I’m not going anywhere near Sakura Trick for instance. Oh well. Basically, Witch Craft Works sucks. Peace.

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